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Give Tau the freedom to be brilliant

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Very few soccer aficionados would disagree that the 24-year-old former Sundowns star is the most exciting talent in South African football right now

Percy Tau scored twice as South Africa defeated Libya in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Tunisia. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Take good care of Percy Tau. That is the one warning sign in bold red letters that the South African soccer bosses should take note of as we all still enjoy the wave of good feeling from Bafana Bafana’s great 2-1 win over Libya on Sunday night, which booked them a ticket to the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt later this year.

There has been a buzz around Bafana Bafana ever since the final whistle sounded just after 9pm on Sunday night.

Social media lit up with smiley faces and happy messages from the fans, there was animated appreciation across all media platforms, and there was a wonderful welcome from a large crowd for the team when they arrived at Oliver Tambo airport on Tuesday.

And Percy Tau has been at the heart of that buzz. Very few soccer aficionados would disagree that the 24-year-old former Sundowns star is the most exciting talent in South African football right now.

His two beautiful goals against Libya sharply underlined that statement. And those two goals took his tally to nine goals in 18 matches for his country.

But Tau needs to be looked after – on and off the field.

What we mean by off the field is that the South African bosses should play their part in making sure that Tau, who is currently playing for Belgian second-tier club Royal Union St Gilloise, where he is on loan from English Premier League team Brighton, does not become embroiled in a protracted “club versus country” dispute, similar to the one that caused such havoc around another hugely talented star, Thulani Serero.

And as for on the field, the key is to let Tau express his skill and creativity without any restrictions. Don’t box him in. Take the shackles off.

The great players don’t need a yoke around their neck. Fortunately, it looks like Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is doing just that by using him in a roving striker role.

“I think Percy is going to be a very important player for South Africa for a very long time,” Baxter said on the team’s arrival. We could not agree more.